Both superhero figures embraced their calling after undergoing intense personal trauma, utilize vengeance as a tool to enact their respective interpretations of justice, and have a public alter-ego that dives into the affluent playboy persona. Then, there are the boomerang-like weapons they both like to use in the shadows of the night: Batman uses the Batarang, whereas Moon Knight resorts to using crescent darts that whizz right back into his hands.
However, these comparisons, while valid, are only superficial — Moon Knight and Batman could not be more different when it comes to their psyches, fight styles, and personal morality, although both men are products of their pain and an obsessive drive to make things right. While the Batman comics, alongside some iterations of the DC superhero on the big screen, paint him in the grittiest of shades (which immensely add to the character), Marvel’s Moon Knight is an equally unique, nuanced figure, with a wildly interesting comics background and a now-expanding on-screen narrative.
Although matchups between two powerful figures can be a hackneyed idea to entertain, a deep dive into who might potentially win can offer eye-opening insight into the kind of hero (or anti-hero) each character innately is. What would happen if the two vigilantes were to go up against each other? Could Batman maim Moon Knight with the aid of his grounded, yet adept hand-to-hand combat skills, or would the knight of the moon have the upper hand due to his (almost) magical abilities?
Here’s a dive into their respective strengths and what can be perceived as weaknesses, their psychological approach to what they do, and how different character interpretations of Batman and Moon Knight can influence a potential fight between the two.
The complex legacy of the Dark Knight
Since his first appearance in DC Comics’ 1939 Detective Comics #27, Batman has been an ever-evolving character embracing a wide range of iterations, although the core tenet of who he remains fairly uniform. Having experienced the intense trauma of losing his parents at a young age, Bruce Wayne navigated his way through the pain by assuming the garb of a vigilante, always on the lookout for the next major (or not so major) rogue to terrorize Gotham City.
While Batman’s personality as a superhero harbors slight variations as per individual comic runs — a case in point being the intense, horror-entrenched aura evoked in Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth — he is essentially a super-detective, a formidable opponent in combat, and a smart strategist even during the tensest of scenarios.
There are shades of internal tussle too, as his Bruce Wayne persona is a heightened performance for specific public situations, allowing him to make strategic alliances with powerful people and create distance between his two sides. However, who is he in the confines of Wayne Manor, when he is unmasked, temporarily able to set aside the burden of the world off his shoulders? The answers vary, and are not, by any means, easy.
In Matt Reeves’ The Batman, Robert Pattinson’s caped figure is new to vigilantism — he does not quite know who he is or what he is supposed to symbolize for the city but is driven by a maddened need for enacting vengeance. There’s a sense of nihilism that grips the character from the get-go, and to be fair, Reeves’ Gotham is as dangerous and seedy as it gets, leaving little space for optimism in a city overrun with crime and corruption. This particular iteration of Batman is more brutal, emerging from the shadows to beat the living daylights out of the criminals and the lowlives, and carrying out his own sleuthing and personal investigations.
In the end, Reeves’ dark knight realizes that his legacy needs to be that of hope as opposed to fear, as hope is something Gotham needs at the moment to rise back up as a city. Hence, the point of the matter is, that the outcome of a fight between Batman and Moon Knight obviously depends on the version of the caped crusader that is involved. Is it the one that is frighteningly effective yet comparatively inexperienced, or the one that went on to defeat the likes of Darkseid?
On the other hand, when considered as one, overarching identity, Batman is a character with a formidable rogues gallery, possessing great skill and experience in combats of all kinds, and has powerful allies he can depend upon, including members of the Justice League.
To evolve with the phases of the moon
Moon Knight is a fairly new comic book superhero when compared to Batman, but he is an immensely intriguing portrait of a man whose powers ebb and flow with the phases of the moon. Marc Spector was the son of a Rabbi, who eventually went on to become a mercenary for hire, only to be betrayed by his partners on a certain mission and almost left for dead. Khonshu, the Egyptian god of the moon, heals Marc and grants him his protective armor, transforming him into his avatar, responsible for enacting vengeance on his behalf.
Even in the comics, it is amply clear that Khonshu takes advantage of Marc’s Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), and leverages his fractured psyche to further manipulate him to do his bidding. While the nature of Marc’s alters are markedly different in the comics and the Disney Plus show (although they share the same names and a few core traits), Moon Knight emerges as a figure dealing with great trauma and emotional baggage, which constantly manifests via his identity as a vigilante figure.
The Steven Grant, Jake Lockley, and Mr. Knight alters are integral to the Moon Knight moniker, as each personality has a seminal role to play in terms of who he is and what he does. While the show makes this aspect abundantly clear, the most recent Marvel comics run of the character, namely Moon Knight #1, posits Moon Knight brutally beating up (and often killing) vampires in the dead of the night, while his Mr. Knight personality launches the Midnight Mission, wherein people petition to Khonshu’s avatar for protection.
In this particular comic run, Moon Knight rejects Khonshu, deeming him unworthy of worship, but still carries out his duty as his right hand, while also exercising his own moral compass (he protects the newborn vampires, as they had no choice in their fates). Even in the show, while Marc has no qualms about getting a little violent to get things done, it is Steven who reins him back in during key moments, hinting at the conflicting moral codes that reside within Marc. On the other hand, there’s Lockley, who is much more attuned to solving problems via straight-up murder, but the show has not delved deeper into that aspect (as of yet).
In terms of enemies, Moon Knight has fought supernatural creatures, gods, and demonic entities so far, with Khonshu’s armor protecting him from near-death encounters due to its regenerative properties. If one were to consider the events of Moon Knight alone, Marc and Steven managed to return from the Egyptian Du’at to the corporeal world, a process which took a heavy psychological toll on both of them, as they had to face (and re-face) their childhood traumas along with the gut-wrenching pain of familial abuse.
To undergo such intense truths and then go on to battle a resurrected Ammit and her relentless avatar (Ethan Hawke’s Harrow) is truly a testimony of Moon Knight’s unparalleled strengths. Moreover, to have one’s powers wax and wane with the moon, while having to deal with a manipulative moon good and constant internal tussles is no small feat. And oh, there are also rogues like Raoul Bushman and Morpheus to deal with.
A long, brutal, evenly-matched fight ends
Batman is a highly-skilled, dynamic fighter, who will most likely attempt to reason with Moon Knight before diving into a full-fledged battle. However, a clash is inevitable, as two men so inherently different yet so intrinsically similar gravitate toward the idea of besting each other, no matter what the cost. Although Batman is well-versed in various fighting styles and has a wide range of high-end tech to aid him during a fight, Moon Knight fights dirtier, unpredictability being his greatest ally.
Although some storylines in the Batman comics come with the primordial Barbatos tie-in, the caped crusader has been deemed a mortal with terrifying combat skills and strategic abilities, who has gone against rogues like the Joker and Deathstroke. While he does have relentless stamina and determination, Moon Knight has Khonshu’s regenerative armor, which helps him heal from fatal injuries and continue on to the end of the most brutal of fights. As Marc can switch between alters mid-fight, this can be the reason why the fight between the two reaches the point of unevenness: it is actually one against four.
Furthermore, the Age of Khonshu comics storyline saw Moon Knight being able to manipulate weapons made of moon materials (albeit temporarily), to the point that he controls Thor’s Mjölnir for a certain amount of time. As these powers are granted at the behest of Khonshu, it remains to be seen what kind of moon powers manifest during a fight with Batman. This, combined with the fact that he is technically immortal, as Moon Knight is always resurrected due to Khonshu’s blessing in the comics, a fight with Batman would most likely end with Moon Knight beating him.
This is not to insinuate that the fight between the two heroes is not neck-to-neck or evenly matched. What Moon Knight possesses in terms of his manifold abilities is balanced out by Batman’s extensive experience and sheer determination/wit during a challenging fight. However, between Batman’s no-kill rule (although this might be up to debate depending on which Batman is involved) and Moon Knight’s penchant for brutal violence, it does seem that the knight of the moon will emerge victorious, whether it is a full moon or a moonless night.
However, Batman might just return for vengeance someday, springing from the shadows like a horde of vicious bats inside a cave.